Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Rajiv Sharma, ACJ. and Lok Pal Singh, J., gave directions to the State Government against the encroachment upon the Alpine meadows in the State.

The petition was sought to conserve and preserve Bugyal (Alpine meadows) situated below the area of Roopkund in District Chamoli. Referred to as the ‘Nature’s own gardens’, the area was primarily meant for grazing the sheep and goats and comprises of life-saving medicinal plants. It had been prayed to direct the forest department to make a Policy for the protection of Aali-Bedini-Bagzi Bugyals, consequently restricting grazing of sheep and goats to local shepherds hence making it non- commercialized. The petition also directed to remove permanent fibre huts constructed by the Forest department made of concrete base thereby restricting the overnight stay of the tourists in the local surroundings plus put an end to the gathering of ‘Keera Jari’ (Yarsagambu, a medicinal plant) as the area suffered from soil erosion, pollution and poaching of animals.

The Court concluded that it was the duty of the State to protect and improve the environment, forests and wildlife of the country as per Article 48A of the Constitution of India following which it also underlined the fundamental duty towards the environment of each individual under Article 58A(g).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Accordingly, the bench disposed of the PIL with following directions:

  1. To remove all the permanent structures from Bugyals.
  2. To constitute the Eco-Development Committees.
  3. To restrict the number of tourists to 200 visiting the alpine meadows.
  4. To ban overnight stay in the Alpine.
  5. The commercial grazing of cattle was banned and only the local shepherds alone would be permitted to graze their cattle on the Bugyals by restricting the number of cattle.
  6. To conduct systematic survey of its flora.
  7. Every forest division should have a herbarium of important medicinal, rare, threatened and botanically interesting plants for reference and done only through government/public sector, as recommended by the experts.

[Aali-Bedini-Bagzi Bugyal Sanrakshan Samiti v. State of Uttarakhand, 2018 SCC OnLine Utt 760, order dated 21-08-2018]

NewsTreaties/Conventions/International Agreements

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the field of Medicinal Plants between India and Equatorial Guinea. The MoU will further enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the area of Medicinal Plants. The financial resources necessary to conduct research, training courses, conferences/meetings will be met from the existing allocated budget and existing plan schemes of the National Medicinal Plants Board, Ministry of AYUSH.

Background:

India is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of biodiversity, having 15 agro-climatic zones. Out of the 17000-18000 species of flowering plants, more than 7000 are estimated to have medicinal usage in folk and documented systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha & Homoeopathy (AYUSH System of Medicine). About 1178 species of medicinal plants are estimated to be in trade of which 242 species have annual consumption levels in excess of 100 metric tonnes/year. Medicinal plants are not only a major resource base for the traditional medicine & herbal industry but also provide livelihood and health security to a large segment of Indian population. There is global resurgence in traditional and alternative health care systems resulting in world herbal trade which stands at US$ 120 billion and is expected to reach US$ 7 trillion by 2050. Moreover, there are a large number of medicinal plants, particularly those found in tropical region, which are common to the two countries given similar geo-climatic factors.

AYUSH